Well, there was this cool bike under the Christmas tree about 50 or so years ago. The timeline is vague, the memory vivid. My brother woke me up at 5 am and together we roused “Santa Claus” and his wife for that early morning surprise.
OK, OK, I know you mean “why I started riding seriously in my present life”. I’ve always had a bike. I even rode my bike from Denver to home, about 250 miles through the mountains, on a whim after my first year of college. That was three days of wonderful pain. But that’s another story, I digress. My serious riding began 13 years ago.
At that time I was commuting by bike in the summer – when the weather was nice, which was about 11 miles one way. I thought I was in good shape. The bike was a 1978 Schwinn Super Le Tour 10-speed (that’s 5 x 2) with down tube shifters. What a sweet ride – I am the original owner. Yeah, another story for later, sorry.
My mom had mentioned one time that one of my childhood friends that I had lost touch with was doing a lot of cycling. OK, that’s cool. But when he, John, and I reconnected at my (ouch) 30th high school class reunion I realized that her statement was really an under statement. He was riding over 5000 miles a year, doing rides like the Tour of Colorado, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, and 24 hours of Moab. It was then that the seed of “serious” cycling was planted. It slowly began to grow into my psyche.
That reunion was a life changing event for me. Getting reacquainted with those “kids” again made me realize what an opportunity I had let slip by. John and I easily reestablished the friendship we had way back then, and the new relationship is based around cycling (although the recalling of all those old hijinks is right up there too, believe me).
Since we live about 1000 miles apart, we started emailing, and still do, several times a week. His cycling adventures became my research projects and it led me into a new world that seemed foreign and alluring at the same time. Our old friendship was rekindled with a new common interest and I was determined to keep it alive this time. Thirty years; what a regret! But I wasn’t going to dwell on that. I made a commitment to keep this cherished friendship going until one of us dies. Cycling is the “fuel”.
In the ensuing years, my metamorphosis into an accomplished cyclist (John was already there) has provided me with all those things that anyone who has been through that knows. I have raced and won (and crashed), ridden centuries, double centuries, joined a team, and wear my sunglasses outside of the helmet straps.
Those were all fun and improved my life. Well, except for the crashing.
The best part of this process, though, was reforging a friendship with a childhood buddy I never should have let go. (We were born two days apart. Our parents were close friends, too). Each of us has made the long drive one way or the other several times to do some epic rides together.
We have worked through some difficult times on our own home fronts, but now with the support of a true friend. We have gone on to do other fun things together as well. But cycling is still the glue holding it all together. When we can’t physically ride together, we share the stories of our rides. We are creating the memories that we’ll laugh over years from now when we’re pushing walkers.
That is why I started riding.